This weekend I was in Munich for the German craft beer festival called Braukunst-Live (The art of beer – live). Here are some of my thoughts about the festival and a few beer highlights. When writing about international beer festivals, I find it makes more sense writing in English. There will be a longer, Danish version in “ØLentusiasteN”, the member magazine of Danish Beer Enthusiasts.
The festival was open Friday through Sunday, and was reasonably full for most of the opening hours. Saturday evening we left and had dinner in town, but heard it was very crowded. The festival has been growing explosively since the first festival in 2012, and it looks like that trend is continuing.
The whole set-up of the festival could look like they have been studying our festival in Copenhagen. It felt very much at home. Each brewery had a stand manned by their own people, and served tastings that we paid for with tokens. The kaleidoscope of big and small breweries, and very different colourful decorations makes it fun just to walk around and look for inspiration.
There were water tanks everywhere, just like in Copenhagen. Whether you just want to clean your glass or drink a sip of water, that is definitely a great thing. In theory, you would get a new glass every time, but the washing and logistics couldn’t quite keep up. I haven’t been to other festivals with constant clean glasses anyway, and I didn’t really miss this extra luxury.
The beer selection was a nice mix of German craft beer and international imports. The German beers were but old and young breweries, and both classic German beer and international craft beer styles. While there were excellent and exciting foreign imports, the German beers were most important for me. There would be no point in travelling to Munich for a festival that only served beer I can get at home.
I’m a big fan of a fresh, well brewed Helles, but it’s definitely a craft beer festival, and I had the best Helles off the festival at places like the city center Ayinger and Andechser restaurants. On the other hand I have a low tolerance for bad American Pale Ale, and I wasn’t too impressed in this genre at the festival. The best examples probably were the ones I had from Bitburger’s craft division Craftwerk.
More interesting is the revival of old Northern German beer styles like Berliner Weisse (a rhubarb weisse from Onkel Bier), Gose (Freigeist Geisterzug) or Lichtenhainer (Freigeist Abraxas). There were also beers thinking completely out of the box, with Schwarzwaldgold as a good example. Their luxury beers come in champagne bottles which isn’t always a guarantee of quality, but in this case, the beer matched the packaging.
The Schwarzwaldgold Tripel isn’t actually a tripel, but perhaps rather a tripel-weizenbock fermented on champagne yeast. A clean crisp weissbier character, with sweetness and vineous alcohol. The Coco D’or is a tart and fruity pale, wheat based beer, obviously in champagne territory.
Barrel aging has also made an impact in Germany of course, and I thought they were generally good at Braukunst-Live. My favourite wasn’t German, but I suppose Austria counts as at least as local as beer from Northern Germany? Zillertal Grand Reserve Barrique 514 was a golden doppelbock, with a fruity aroma, very fresh oak character, and a slightly tart flavour from the tannins.
The food at the festival was good enough to keep me going, and at least as good as we’re used to in Denmark. Anyway, we had good lunch before we arrived each day, and would also have something after the festival.
The little sour note was that entrance took a lot of time. On Friday everybody had to get their tickets of course, but we bought three-day tickets and expected to go more or less straight in on Saturday. However, on Saturday the queue for pre-paid tickets moved at least as slowly as the queue for new guests. There has to be a smarter solution to this.